Until the Razor Cuts

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These photos come from two short, late strolls to the Cove and across the Lots with TBH, back in mid-September. On both occasions we set off as the sun was setting, on days when the weather had been poor and, not learning my lesson the first time, I neglected to take my camera on both evenings, so had to settle for using my phone to take pictures.

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Farewell to the sun.

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Rain on Humphrey Head.

When Mark E. Smith passed away earlier this year, somehow I never got around to mentioning the great pleasure he and The Fall had given me over the years. (Every Fall fan has their own personal favourite album, mine is ‘Slates, Slags etc’, perhaps not an obvious one). This week, sadly, Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks has passed too.

I can’t pick out a favourite Buzzcocks track – I listened to the ‘Spiral Scratch’ e.p.,  their first two albums and the ‘Singles: Going Steady’ compilation endlessly for many years. Not so much recently, which, listening back to them again now, is obviously my loss. They say that you know that you are getting old, when police officers seem young, but a more telling measure must be when the singers you admired in your formative years start to shuffle off to the great gig in the sky.

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Until the Razor Cuts

I Got The…

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We’re surely overdue some sunset photos from the Cove?

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These photos date back to consecutive Friday and Saturday evenings back in September. The Saturday was notable because A started a paper-round. I joined her in order to learn the route in preparation for the many weekends when she isn’t available, for one reason or another.

The Tower Captain spotted me delivering papers recently and asked whether I was making a bid to be the nation’s oldest paperboy. Cheeky ***!

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I usually pad out these brief posts, from a short familiar walk to the Cove and across the Lots, with some music. Something by Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed seemed appropriate, but, as often happens, I got distracted whilst searching for a song to use and somehow found myself listening again to Labi Siffre’s ‘I Got The…’.

It’s been sampled frequently, most famously for Eminem’s ‘My Name Is’. (Which is exceptionally dull by comparison with the original, in my opinion at least). Interestingly, two of the session musician’s on the recording were Chas and Dave. Labi Siffre has been mentioned on the blog before, when I visited the last resting place of Arthur Ransome and his wife Evgenia, because when Siffre appeared on Radio 4’s ‘Great Lives’ he championed the case for Ransome and his ‘Swallows and Amazons’ books.

I Got The…

All Good Things

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All good things must come to an end, or so they say. And so: to the last weekend of our holiday. Actually, these photos were all taken on the Friday. The Saturday was rather damp. I still got out for a walk and took lots of photos of a hugely varied selection of fungi, but I must have only had my phone with me and the photos are all hopelessly blurred. On the Sunday, I was out so late that the few photos I took were almost completely dark, but for a thin line of light along the western horizon.

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Red Admiral.

On the Friday then, I was out in the garden, drawn out by the butterflies on the Buddleia. A subsequent walk took me past this old postbox on Cove Road…

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To The Cove itself…

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And thence onto The Lots where I hoped to find…

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Autumn Lady’s-tresses flowering.

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These are tiny plants, extremely easy to miss, but once you’ve spotted a couple your eye seems to tune in, and pretty soon you’re realising that there are loads dotted about. In ‘Wild Orchids of Great Britain and Ireland’ David Lang says that Autumn Lady’s-tresses are mainly distributed in the southern half of England, so we must be lucky to have them on The Lots and at Jack Scout.

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The Latin name is Spiranthes spiralis, the second part of which presumably refers to the way that the flowers spiral around the stem.

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Carline Thistle.

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Maybe not the most promising flower – a brown thistle, but I’m very fond of them.

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As you can probably tell.

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly.

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An Inman Oak.

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Rosehips.

Back in the garden, the seedheads on the Staghorn Sumach caught my eye…

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Apparently this can be used as a seasoning, and something similar is used in the Middle East – I haven’t plucked up the courage to try it yet.

Earlier in the summer we’d seen a lactating Roe Deer hind on our patio and I wondered if she had hidden a fawn, or fawns, nearby.

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Then we had a few visits from a hind, possibly the same one, with two fawns in tow. That’s the hind at the top of the post.

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The fawns’ white spots were beginning to disappear, but were still visible.

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They came right up under the kitchen windows. I was particularly pleased to catch the mother whilst she was in the sun, because that way you can see the wonderful colour of their summer coats.

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They’ve been back since, or at least a similar family have, but now have duller, winter fur and the fawns have completely lost their spots.

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I took this photo, as I often do, to remind me to go to the advertised talk. Which, a couple of weeks later, I duly did. Very good it was too.

I’ve seen Brian Yorke talk before. He’s very knowledgable and funny to boot. Unless you live locally, you might not have the chance to to catch up with one of his talks on flowers or ferns or bird migration, but he does have an excellent website where you can keep up with his latest finds and quirky drawings.

Anyway, back to the Friday: in the evening, we met with some friends for a beach bonfire, a chinwag and a few convivial drinks…

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I think that it was our good friend G who suggested the event.

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I hope it becomes a regular thing.

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B seemed to enjoy hunting for driftwood logs to sit on and/or burn.

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Sitting around a fire on a beach inevitably has me thinking back nostalgically to happy weekends on the Welsh coast a long time ago, with a different group of friends.

Finally, one last image of a Roe Deer, this time one of the young ones, as it passed through a sunny spot beneath our kitchen window…

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All Good Things

Orographic Fog Sunset Carn Fadryn.

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At some point this summer, when I’ve been watching a sunset from a high vantage point, it occurred to me that in all the years we’ve been climbing Carn Fadryn and enjoying the Llyn Peninsula’s fabulous sunsets, we’ve never thought to combine the two. So I arrived in North Wales with an ambition. When I suggested it to Andy, his response made me think that he had perhaps been thinking exactly the same thing. Most of the rest of our party were keen too.

We chose an evening for our climb, but on the day, the weather didn’t seem too promising. For much of the day, Carn Fadryn had been completely obscured by cloud. Then the cloud began to lift, but a persistent cap of cloud hid the top part of the hill. Briefly Carn Fadryn cleared completely, giving us a degree of hope, but by the time we set-off the cloud had once more enveloped almost all of the hill and we climbed in dense, wet mist…

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I suppose we might have abandoned our idea, but it’s a short climb and this walk, up Little S’s ‘Birthday Hill’, is a fixture of our holidays. He wouldn’t forgive us if we didn’t climb it at some point, although this was still a few days before his actual birthday.

As we approached the summit however, something in the light seemed to promise more than we could have anticipated…

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Maybe the cloud would clear…

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But it was a bit more complicated than that. I’m not sure whether I’ve ever wondered before about how, on a windy day, a hill can retain a permanent cap of cloud. In fact, that isn’t what was happening at all. The wind was driving moist air from over the sea and as that air hit the slopes of Carn Fadryn it was forced to rise – called, apparently, orographic lift – and cooled down in the process, causing moisture to condensate out and hence forming clouds. Those clouds were almost immediately dispersed by the wind, but were soon replaced by new clouds formed by the wind following on behind.

The effect, from our point of view, was of sudden clearing and disappearing views. The next three photos, taken in quick succession, give some idea of what we could see.

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I’ve enthused many times before about the wonderful views from Carn Fadryn; on this occasion we only had brief and partial views, but it was completely exhilarating.

Whilst it wasn’t raining, it might as well have been: the air was so damp that we soon realised that we were soaked.

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We couldn’t see the sun, a high blanket of cloud was hiding it, but we could see a line of light reflected in the sea, a sort of secondhand sunset.

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It was cold. The kids had sort-out shelter on the leeward side of the summit rocks and were agitating for a beginning to our descent. Inappropriately clothed in just t-shirt and shorts, I could see their point of view and eventually, reluctantly, joined them on the path back towards the cars. Only the Adopted Yorkshire Man and the Shandy Sherpa stayed on the summit, but as I walked away I heard more whoops of excitement from behind me.

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The sun had dropped below the high cloud and was suffusing the fog with colour.

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TBF and I turned back for the top, so that we could watch the show…

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It was all too brief, the sun soon dropping behind another band of cloud…

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But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it before.

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It wasn’t the warm, peaceful sunset viewing I had envisaged, but probably all the more memorable for that.

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Post sunset sky from the camp-site later.

Orographic Fog Sunset Carn Fadryn.

The Calf from Howgill

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Holy Trinity Church Howgill.

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I was surprised by the plain white interior – English churches are usually so austere that they don’t stretch to plaster or paint. It was only built in 1839, but a board inside suggests that there’s been a chapel here for much longer…

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Subsequent, lazy internet research suggests that this house…

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…on the far side of Chapel Beck, was once itself the chapel.

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I was intrigued by this bike, which was propped up by the church; it looked to be in working order, but the saddle, whilst it has springs, has no cover.

This was the evening after my Langdale swimming excursion. The forecast had been once again good, but in actuality there was a good deal more cloud about. In fact, as I drove along the M6 towards the Howgill Fells I was a bit taken aback to see that the sky behind them was absolutely black – it looked as though an almighty thunderstorm was on the way and I didn’t even have a coat with me. Fortunately, by the time I’d parked in the tiny hamlet of Howgill, the skies had cleared considerably.

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The Howgill Fells.

If you look at the map of my route at the bottom you’ll notice an apparent loop at one point, which is where I made a navigational error. I crossed the parched field above when I shouldn’t have, leading me to a gate with a sign on its far side saying ‘Private No Access’. This wouldn’t have been so terrible if I hadn’t been attracting the attentions of a particularly persistent Buzzard. The first time I was strafed by an angry Buzzard was in 2010, so I managed 44 years without ever upsetting any Buzzards, but these days I almost expect to be harassed by them when I’m out, it happens so often. I’m beginning to feel paranoid about it. This one adopted different tactics to any of the others – swooping toward me several times in three separate places, and after the first relatively mild shot across the bows, which was preceded by a few warning kew, kews, it came silently and, on one occasion, from behind. The last time, I could see it way across the valley…

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…and then watched it come back on a bee-line straight towards me, at eye-level, which was a bit disconcerting. I suppose the fact that this has happened several times without any injuries on my part should be reassuring, but, in the moment, that didn’t occur to me, and I took to my heels, which I’m sure was all very amusing for anyone who saw me from the nearby farmhouse of Castley.

Anyway, this…

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…is the path I should have been on.

This…

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…is where Bram Rigg Beck and Swarth Greaves Beck flow into Chapel Beck which ultimately flows into The Lune. Chapel Beck is also fed by Calf Beck, Long Rigg Beck, Stranger Gill, Crooked Ashmere Gills and Long Rigg Gill all of which ultimately feed the Lune. You can perhaps tell from the photo that I was quite a way above Chapel Beck, but sadly the path forsook all of that hard-earned height and dropped down to cross the stream, and, even more sadly, I went with it….

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…to climb White Fell, that long shoulder stretching away on the right of the photo.

It was a long, hot and sticky climb, enlivened by more views of a Buzzard, who, this time, was more interested in hunting prey than in persecuting me.

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Arant Haw. The right hand ridge is my descent route.

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Looking back down my ascent route to the Lune valley from near the top.

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Bram Rigg and Arrant Haw pano.

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Calf Top.

The small tarn close to the summit of Calf Top was completely dried out.

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Looking back to Calf Top from Bram Rigg Top.

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The Three Peaks from Calders.

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Arant Haw from Calders. Black Combe on the right-hand horizon, Arnside Knott and the Kent Estuary in the centre. The lake in the distance is Killington Lake.

Clouds massed again and it got a bit gloomy, but the Lakeland Fells, although quite distant, seemed very sharp and individual hills, like the Langdale Pikes and the Scafells and Great Gable, stood out clearly…

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The Eastern Fells are not quite so distinctive…

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It was getting quite late now, but the sun had dropped below the level of the cloud and the views from Arant Haws and, better yet, from the ridge off Arant Haws were stunning.

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Tebay Gorge and Howgill Fells.

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Howgill Fells.

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Arant Haw.

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Lune Valley, Morecambe Bay, Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary, Killington Lake, Black Combe.

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Tebay Gorge.

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Nine miles (ish) and a fair bit of up and down, Not bad for a Thursday evening.

The Calf from Howgill

Another Orchid Hunt

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Cartmell Fell, the Kent and Whitbarrow Scar from Arnside Knott.

An unexpected window for an evening stroll. I set out intending to walk around the Knott, rather than up it, but, as you can see from the photo above, I did eventually climb to the top. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Some more photos from the garden first…

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As if to prove my point about fledglings lacking caution, this little ball of fluff, a juvenile blue tit, sat in the Sumach in our garden and didn’t move or flinch as I approached with my camera despite noisy entreaties from a parent bird.

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For once, I didn’t start from home, but gave the walk a kick-start by parking in a lay-by on the south side of the Knott. From there the view of Arnside Tower…

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…makes it seem to still be in a good state of repair, rather than the semi-ruin which the view from the far side, which I more usually post, suggests.

I took the gradually ascending path which has become something of a favourite, but then cut back down into the fields of Heathwaite…

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There were lots of Common Spotted-orchids, here seen with Quaking Grass – they often seem to be companions. I’d also been tipped off, by Craig who looks after the local National Trust properties and was one of the attendees of the Grass course I did, that there were some less common orchids growing there.

These…

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…which have been protected from grazing rabbits…

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…are Fragrant Orchids, which I’ve previously seen at Tarn Sike nature reserve last summer. There were also some growing outside the netting, rather bedraggled specimens, but I was able to confirm for myself the strong carnation like scent which gives them their name.

Nearby another netted area held…

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…Lesser Butterfly-orchids, another flower which I was seeing for only the second time, having unexpectedly come across one in a tiny churchyard, also last summer.

There were a few Northern Marsh-orchids nearby too, but they were in the shade and my photos came out even less sharply than the ones above, so I’ve omitted them.

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Dropwort.

I was also hoping to find the Spiked Speedwell which I’d seen flowering here last summer, another first last year, but couldn’t find any, which was not entirely a surprise since Craig had told me that the long spell of hot, dry weather was adversely affecting the speedwell.

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Looking south along the coast.

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A poser. The shape and colour suggests Northern Marsh-orchid, but the markings on the flower look like Common Spotted-orchid. They do hybridise, so that’s probably the explanation.

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By now the light was glorious.

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But the sun was beginning to sink.

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I had one more spot to check out. Craig had perfectly described a patch of bracken, by the path in Redhill Pasture, where there were more Lesser Butterfly-orchids…

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The path continues to skirt the hill from here, but was in the shade, so I decided to climb so that I could keep the light for longer.

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A thrush’s anvil.

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A thrush.

I made an unfortunate choice, following a different path than the one I usually take, which petered out leaving me stranded in very tall bracken, which might not have been so bad were there not brambles and blackthorn growing concealed by the bracken.

Still, the views were worth it…

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And there were wild strawberries to accompany the views – small but very tasty.

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Across Silverdale Moss to the Pennines.

Another Orchid Hunt

Heron Pike and Alcock Tarn

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Fairfield Horseshoe from Rydal Fell.

Another evening post-walk work. It was still quite warm. My plans centred around an evening swim. Northern Rail’s failings threw a spanner in the works, because a cancelled train left me driving the kids home first. Since I was at home and had some cooked chicken in the fridge, I decided to quickly throw together a salad to take with me to eat whilst I was out.

So, I was a bit later setting off than I usually am, and I still hadn’t decided where to go. I was trying to think of somewhere not too far away, with a shortish walk in, a good swimming spot, and which was likely to retain the sun as it began to sink. I couldn’t really think of anywhere which met all the criteria and, more by default than anything else, finally parked in Rydal, intending to visit Buckstones Jump. But I’d forgotten that the track we’d used when I took the boys there, has signs saying that it is a farm track only, with no public access. I stood and vacillated for a while. I could just trespass; would there be anyone about to notice me now? But in the end, I chickened out and changed my plan.

Not before I’d noticed this gnarly old Oak though…

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Or, more specifically, the fungi growing on a splintered part of the trunk…

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I’m pretty sure that this is Sulphur Polypore, or Chicken of the Woods, something else, like Herb Paris, that I’ve waited a long time to see. It’s allegedly good to eat and if I’d had a ladder with me, or a small boy adept at shinning up trees even, I would be able to report on the flavour. But I didn’t have either, so I shall have to wait again.

I consulted the map and realised that I could climb Heron Pike and then return via Alcock Tarn, giving what looked to be a fairly reasonable round, all sticking to western slopes, where I would keep the sun for longer.

The climb up Nab Scar was, frankly, too steep for a hot and sticky evening, but at least I was rewarded with views back to Wansfell and Windermere.

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I met a couple descending just before I took this photo; they were the last other walkers I saw all evening.

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Nab Scar pano.

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Heron Pike from Nab Scar.

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Rydal Fell, Great Rigg, Fairfield, Hart Crag, and Dove Crag from Heron Pike.

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Heron Pike and Windermere from Rydal Fell.

On the top there was a welcome bit of breeze. Welcome, that is, until I wanted to sit down, make a brew and enjoy my salad and the views. Fortunately, I found a small hollow just off the top of Rydal Fell which was sheltered, in the sun, and had fine views of the Coniston and Langdale Fells, with the Scafell range beyond…

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My salad barely touched the sides, but making and drinking a cuppa took a while, which was a perfect excuse to sit in this peaceful spot and soak it all in.

I’ve been quite surprised to discover, retrospectively, that Nab Scar and Heron Pike are both Wainwrights and that, in addition, Rydal Fell is a Birkett. I might not have bothered if I’d paid any heed to wainwright in advance however:

“Heron Pike is a grassy mound on the long southern ridge of Fairfield. From no direction does it look like a pike or peak nor will herons be found there. It is a viewpoint of some merit but otherwise is of little interest.”

From Rydal Fell I almost doubled back on myself,  contouring around the western slopes of Heron Pike before descending towards Alcock tarn.

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Loughrigg, Coniston Fells, Grasmere, Alcock Tarn.

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Alcock Tarn.

In Heaton Cooper’s marvellous guide to the tarns of the lake district you can discover that Alcock Tarn was once Butter Crags Tarn before it was dammed, by a Mr Alcock, and stocked with trout. AW, the Auld Whinger dismisses it as ‘a dreary sheet of water’. He must have been in a foul mood when he wrote up Heron Pike. In ‘A Bit of Grit on Haystacks’, an anthology edited by Dave Hewitt and published by Millrace Books to commemorate both the centenary of Wainwrights birth and the fiftieth anniversary of the first of his Pictorial Guides, appropriately The Eastern Fells, which contains the entry on Heron Pike, Harry Griffin tells a story, which he learned from a mutual friend, of Wainwright abandoning a round of the Fairfield Horseshoe and heading directly down to Alcock Tarn from Heron Pike in order to avoid Griffin, who was also a friend, because ‘he talks too much’. Nice chap.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Wainwright!

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Alcock Tarn. Dreary.

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Dropping down from Alcock Tarn I picked up the Old Corpse Road between Grasmere and Ambleside to take me back to Rydal. There are no photographs here because the sun, and with it the best of the light, had gone, but it’s a route which has appeared several times on the blog before, because this is one of my favourite low-level routes in the area.

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A little over 7 miles with around 550m of ascent.

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That evening, the valley of Rydal Beck soon disappeared into shadow, whilst I was in glorious sunshine on the ridge, so my choice turned out to be a fortuitous one. I have a pet theory about a different way to get to Buckstones Jump which I would like to try. I’m not sure when I will get around to it though.

Heron Pike and Alcock Tarn